All together now ... tighten your belt, share the sacrifice, and be thankful you have a job that gives you an annual raise of 2 or 3 percent and a 401(k) plan, if that.
Such are the buzz phrases of budget making in a recession. It looks like some of the casualties could be public golf courses and tennis courts, library hours, pensions and benefits, jobs in the fire department, free chow for Memphis City Council members, and money for cutting grass.
The austerity campaign is being preached by, among others, the blue-chip business group Memphis Tomorrow. An outreach called Memphis Fast Forward urged elected officials to shrink government, appoint a private-sector advisory committee of financial experts, and overhaul fees, fines, and pensions.
It is against raising property taxes but in favor of using tax incentives to lure businesses to Memphis or keep them here. And it is wary of public unions but for lavish spending on corporate executives as long as it is "market-based."
While the wages and benefits of ordinary Memphians are declining or stable, the 24 members of Memphis Tomorrow have recovered from the recession and then some. At least eight of them made more than $2 million last year. Such salaries don't merit a second glance in The Wall Street Journal, but they're jarring in the context of Greater Memphis, particularly with the recent focus on members of the AFSCME union for sanitation workers.
As The Washington Post reported this week in a story by Peter Whoriskey, "With executive pay, rich pull away from the rest of America." Income disparity has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression. In Memphis, the median household income is $53,000 a year. Mayoral appointees making $65,000 a year get public criticism and media scrutiny. Memphis mayor A C Wharton makes just over $170,000, but I'm guessing that in the eyes of Memphis Tomorrow he's worth more.
Memphis Tomorrow was started in 2001 as a "do-tank" (as opposed to a think tank) by businessmen Dean Jernigan and Joseph R. Hyde III. According to the organization's website, "members are the men and women who lead Memphis' largest enterprises. Together they generate over $50 billion in annual revenues and employ more than 80,000 local people." They have been involved in the consolidation push, the Shelby Farms Conservancy, and Operation Safe Community. There is turnover when a member such as former Pinnacle Airlines CEO Phil Trenary retires or leaves Memphis. Don't call them, they'll call you.
Here is a list of the members of Memphis Tomorrow. Compensation figures are taken from the most recent public documents available. Tennessee does not have an income tax, and Memphis does not have a payroll tax.
Bill Rhodes, chairman of Memphis Tomorrow's executive committee, president and CEO of AutoZone: $3,809,927.
Steve Reynolds, president of nonprofit Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp.: $4,149,406.
Bryan Jordan, president and CEO of First Horizon: $3,573,270.
Gary Shorb, co-chair of Memphis Fast Forward, CEO of nonprofit Methodist Healthcare: $1,293,801.
Eric Bolton Jr., chairman and CEO of Mid-America Apartment Communities: $1,410,687.
John Faraci, chairman and CEO of International Paper: $17,849,343.
David Bronczek, president and CEO of FedEx Express: $5,328,017.
John Carson, CEO of Morgan Keegan: $2,217,324.
Kriner Cash, superintendent of Memphis City Schools: $270,000.
Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of nonprofit ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: $210,941.
William Evans, director and CEO of nonprofit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: $795,538.
Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis: $297,848.
The compensation of the following members is undisclosed: Steven Fitzpatrick (Accredo Health); Ben C. Adams, attorney; Joseph DeVivo (Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics); Martha Beard (the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis); and O. Mason Hawkins (Southeastern Asset Management).
Also, Joseph R. Hyde III (chairman of the Hyde Family Foundation); Tom McGuinness (Biologics); Hank Mullany (ServiceMaster); Johnny B. Moore Jr. (SunTrust Bank); Joseph Pepe (president and publisher of The Commercial Appeal); Diane Rudner (the Plough Foundation); and David Slott (American Residential Services).
The group is not very diverse. It includes three African Americans and three women. While they are not necessarily the most highly paid Memphians, they are, as baseball player Dizzy Dean once said, "amongst 'em."